A bit of media coverage here and there of our new study published in Nature Scientific Reports. We found that feeling guilty has a positive effect on our behaviour and can lead to better cooperation. We examined this in an energy sharing scenario and found that when energy use was made visible with smart meters and usage in unequal, as is common, the group reacted angrily and retaliated by using more energy. But if the person using more energy felt guilty and moderated their usage the situation would be repaired and cooperation restored.
The Carbon Journey at Genting Arena
I was very pleased to be a speaker at The Carbon Journey at Genting Arena on 31st October 2016. This is an annual event primarily for students at Aston and Birmingham City University, as well as relevant industry partners to discuss how climate change will impact society, business and the professions. The feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive and the event was Highly Commended for the Green Gowns award.
First trial of e-Genie at The Digital Catapult in London
e-Genie is an energy engagement tool developed from the integration of interdiciplinary insights from Psychology, Sociology, and Computer Science research within the Ctech project. The tool provides energy information feedback (both electricity and gas) to building users, and encourages engagement with that information through interactions with the data, comparing historical patterns of energy data, and labeling patterns observed. Furthermore e-Genie encourages people to take action to reduce energy use by providing users with support for: planning individual behaviour changes; discussing issues with other building users; and by contacting the Facilities Manager directly.
The current deployment of e-Genie will allow us to refine the tool and develop it for further larger scale trials. We hope that the tool's use will result in significant reductions in energy use but is also designed to allow us to test hypotheses around the best way to engage workplace building users with energy saving efforts.
Facilities Management paper wins BSA prize
(Jan, 2016) A recent paper written by myself and Murray Goulden on the role of the FM in organisational energy use has been highlighted by the British Sociological Association as worthy of an award. We have been placed third in prizes awarded for noteworthy sociological papers relating to climate change. There will be a prize giving in the spring and the judges note:
“Goulden and Spence make a strong theoretical and empirical case for paying greater attention to ‘middle agents’ in energy networks, in this case the apparently mundane role of Facilities Manager. Studying these managers provide key insights to the messy issues and conflicting logics that lie behind macro-scale carbon reduction targets. The paper brings together literature on energy consumption and organisational sociology with rich empirical detail, with a welcome eye on practical recommendations for action.”
Creating the Energy for Change (C-tech) feature
(Jan, 2016) Our Ctech research is featured in the latest EPSRC blog written by me! See here.
The blogpost particularly focuses on the impact that the project work has had in reducing energy consumption in workplaces already and looks forward to future project ambitions.
Notably we find that people with affordability concerns about energy are less likely to accept DSM, and this is partly explained by a lower willingness to share their energy data. Indeed a significant proportion of people across the UK (around 20%) said they wouldn't share their data with any of the groups we specified.
2015 Psychology PG Conference
The 2015 University of Nottingham Postgraduate conference will take place on Friday 17th April. Looks to be a good line up, see the conference programme here and thanks to our conference committee Fabio Parente, Jenny Tellett, Lawrence Ma Ka Yin, and Alex Turcan.
Perceptions of Climate Change after the Floods
We launched some of our latest survey findings at the Royal Society on 29th January, well received by a audience of academics, policy makers and NGOs.
Notably we find that public belief in climate change has increased since our last surveys and is at its highest in 10 years according to our tracker questions. Most people seem to be linking the extreme floods we have in recent years to climate change and think that these are a sign of things to come. And those who have experienced flooding seem to be even more certain, concerned and consider climate change psychologically closer.
The findings of our Smart Grid Scenarios UKERC project were launched on the 25th February 2014 at The Royal Society in London.
Developed using expert and public feedback, the research identifies four possible smart grid futures or ‘scenarios’; from a world dominated by gas with little smart grid development (‘Minimum Smart’), to one where renewables and electric vehicles are strongly incentivised and developed; leading to a consumer driven smart grid (‘Smart 2050’).
The findings of our UKERC project which explored public perceptions of the future UK energy system were launched on the 16th July 2013 at The Royal Society in London.
The synthesis report brings together the findings from two in-depth phases of research carried out over 30 months; a series of six in-depth deliberative workshops with members of the public held across England, Scotland and Wales; and a nationally representative survey of 2,441 members of the public